The Illinois Fighting Illini will begin their 124th football season at Memorial Stadium on Saturday against the Southern Illinois Salukis at 11:00 a.m. CT.
Illinois head coach Tim Beckham, led the Illini to a 2-10 record in his first season at the helm, after spending three years at Toledo where he was 21-16. Beckham will have history on his side Saturday as the Illini have won 15 consecutive home-openers, 13-0 all-time against in-state public universities (3-0 against SIU), and 12-0 against FCS schools.
Illinois-SIU Series History: The Illini and SIU have battled three times before in 1985 (28-25 win), 1990 (56-21 win), and 2010 (35-3 win) with all three contests being played at Memorial Stadium.
Previous Meeting: Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and tight end Evan Wilson started in the 2010 win over SIU, and five other Illini players saw action in the 2010 game that will play this Saturday. Scheelhaase completed 14-for-18 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns, including a 34-yard pass to Wilson over SIU in 2010.
SIU Breakdown: SIU finished last season with a 6-5 record and a three-way third place finish in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 5-3 conference record. They are led by sixth year head coach Dale Lennon and QB Kory Faulker, who started all 11 games for SIU. Faulker had a 58.8 pass completion and threw for 11 TDs and 1,865 yards, the 12th highest single-season total in SIU history.
Prediction: Look for at least three punts from the 2013 Ray Guy Award candidate Justin DuVernois and two field goals from So. Taylor Zalewski. The Illini's new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will will make an impact as Scheelhaase will spread out his passes more and throw for more than 200 yards. RB Donovonn Young will add a touchdown en route to a 27-10 victory.
Next Week: The Illini host the Cincinnati Bearcats on Sept. 7 at 11:00 a.m. CT